Australia Bound! (Part 2)

For Part 1 of this “Life” post, click here.

By the end of 2003, the land of Australia was fast closing in. Dad had left a few weeks prior to our own departure, leaving us to say farewell to our family members. It’s important to know that when you live in a Spanish family, life can be a little… crowded. But alas, family is family right? We spent our remaining time in the warmth of our family – the days reserved for the odd family member we would see every once in a while, the nights being used to spend time with our grandparents.

But it was soon over. With a bag full of clothes and a handful of English phrases in tow, I boarded a plane for the first time. It was a rather ordinary flight but as you could probably guess, it was amazing through the eyes of my 6 year old self. I remember having the window-seat, and so I spent the next 24 hours staring at clouds. The excitement of being in a plane soon faded as the day turned into night; the white clouds into a dark sea. I shortly fell asleep.

I awoke as my mum nudged me in the shoulder, the newfound sunlight seeping in from the window. The plane was flying lower now, circling around the city of Sydney. It was something I had never seen before – high rises, buildings, bridges and roads stretched as far as I could see. As the plane started it’s descent, it became harder and harder to contain my excitement. The aircraft came to a pause, people shuffled their way outside and I suddenly found myself in the cold, neatly paved parking of the airport.

Dad had been waiting for us with a bright red minivan (which sadly, we don’t own anymore). We hopped on and 2 hours later, we had arrived in the middle of Australia’s suburbia – the Western Suburbs. At the time, I had a very little idea of how the world worked, how Australia worked and how long I would be staying here.

It never occurred to me that I would still be in the same suburb, 11 years later, writing about the same day.

Playing: Bayonetta (PS3) (XBOX 360)

Bayonetta_Cover

Let’s face it: SEGA’s games have lately been on the decline, not only in quantity, but in quality. Of the few gems that it has to offer, Bayonetta stands out in all its raunchy, addictive and intoxicating glory. It’s an action packed, hack-and-slash third person shooter – so naturally, its was impossible to pass up.

Bayonetta, an Umbra Witch that has lost her memories, sets out to uncover the mysteries of her past and the “Eye of the World”, a jewel she has owned from as far as she remembers. Sporting a wide of range of weapons, four guns being her favourite, she battles the armies of Paradiso Angels who impede her progress. Why they do this delves deeper into the world of Bayonetta (which is in turn, beyond the realm of this blog). She meets a handful of character who she seems to be connected to somehow – of interest a small girl named Cereza who calls her “Mommy”.

Bayonetta herself is a fiery, smart-mouthed, glasses-wearing woman with a flare for… sexual innuendo. Whilst on the surface she may seem like eye-candy for the teen male, her character is fleshed out through her relationships with other characters. Her development as a selfish character to one that acknowledges the value of compassion demonstrates not only the way people can change through life – but also how “sexual” characters in games (Especially women) can have a perfectly good story that adds depth.

Admittedly, the story of the game is hard to follow, choppy at best. In “compensation” players are given the satisfaction of an extremely intriguing and flashy form of fighting. The player controls Bayonetta as she glides across the screen performing amazing combos. It’s awfully satisfying – gaining momentum, performing timed backflips and executing a string of commands that makes her dance (Seriously). The game also has two additional mechanics when fighting – Witch Time and Torture Attacks. With Witch Time, the player has to narrowly dodge attacks to slow down the passage of time whereas with Torture Attacks, players complete a series of QTEs to finish of their enemies  (in an ever-so-flashy manner). Items that can be equipped consists of an array of weapons (ranging from katanas to magical ice skates) and magical ornaments whereas consumable items appear in the form of lollipops.

The visuals of the game are definitely encapsulating, especially when you consider that this was pre 2010Enemies are detailed and interesting to view, although in the later game colour pallets are swapped to make room for new enemies. Character designs in particular stand out though – they range in shapes and sizes but are all believable and executed well. As for the music in the game, all I can really say is that I’ve downloaded “Fly Me To The Moon” and “Let’s Dance Boys” and both are on the top of my playlist my phone. And computer. And music player.

All in all, Bayonetta is remarkable game that utilises incredible fighting mechanics, powerful visuals and a striking soundtrack. Although the story lacks a sense of clarity and is begging for more (Pst, Sequel), the characters in the game more than make up for it through their quirky personalities and backstories. If similar games like Devil May Cry bother you, or you have an unreasonable hate towards the rings from Sonic (Oh Sega references), then this game is probably not for you. But if you’re more than happy to experience the diamond that is Bayonetta – “Let’s Rock Baby!”

Bry Rating: 4.25
Recommended? Of Course
Country of Origin: Japan
Developer: Sega ; Platinum Games

Watching: Muriel’s Wedding (1994)



Although I watched it as part of the English curriculum in school, Muriel’s Wedding is a surprisingly loveable film. With a range of distinctive characters, nostalgic ABBA soundtrack and both humorous and touching plot, this movie has become one of the greatest films to come out from Australia in my opinion.

I had already known the plot of the film before going into it. Small town girl stands up against the world to build her self-confidence. Simple I thought – it was a simple plot ergo, a simple essay that I had to write. But within 15 minutes of watching the dreary, depressing and unfortunate life of Muriel, those thoughts were blown away.

The story follows Muriel Heslop, a woman considered the laughing stock; the ugly duckling by the people of Porpoise Spit. Living at home, jobless and without anyone to provide any real sense of support, life for Muriel is understandably depressing. Using ABBA music and her dreams of getting married to escape the real world, Muriel later learns to stand up against those who stomp on her wishes and becomes perhaps what we all yearn to be – happy with herself.

Muriel’s journey is arduous and ultimately a metaphor for the sense of belonging everyone wants to achieve. P. J. Hogan, director of the film, creates an incredible sense of isolation within modern society, as well as the barriers many are confined to as a result of being labelled a misfit or an outcast. The soundtrack for the film, which was mainly comprised of ABBA hits, was considered to have revived ABBA’s own popularity around the world but mostly within Australia. Escapism and reality is explored within the film through Muriel’s character, as well as the lengths an individuals will go through to obtain a sense of normality or complacency in their lives.

At the beginning, I had already judged the movie in a negative light. In a way, I’m happy it did as it was able to break down and surpass my expectations. Although the film itself is a decade old and filled with music unknown to our generation (This may actually be honest though), Muriel’s Wedding  is an emotional masterpiece from start to finish. If you’re willing to put yourself through any romantic comedy, then I sincerely suggest to give this movie a go – You won’t regret it.

Bry Rating:  4.5/5
Recommended? Definitely
Country of Origin: Australia
Language:
English

Listening To: Suzumiya Haruhi no Gensou

Suzumiya_Haruhi_no_Gensou_Cover

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu) was one of the first anime I ever watched to completion – and one that I still adore to this day. I recall completing a few of my art assignments in school on Haruhi, learning the dance sequence of Hare Hare Yukai (which I can still perform) and attempting to learn the opening song. I was beyond words when I learnt there was a concerto version of the music of the anime – and even more so when there was a CD of it available.

Suzumiya Haruhi no Gensou, or the Symphony of Haruhi Suzumiya, is an incredible concerto rendition of music from the anime performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. It was definitely interesting – fond memories were stirred up from the unfamiliar classical harmonies.  I must admit, whilst I have an appreciation for the classical genre, the renditions felt slightly unfamiliar – in a way too polished.

Don’t take it the wrong way; it was by no means terrible. In fact it was the opposite. The orchestra excellently executed the pieces with a sense of flair. But there was a lack of feeling, a lack of relation in the performance – It was technically perfect, not emotionally. In the DVD version, there were a few nods to the anime (which were admittedly pleasing) and Aya Hirano, voice of  Haruhi herself and Lead Singer, even performed the vocals for a few tracks (And mind you, she was amazing although I prefer the original tracks). It was things such as these that made the performance more believable and definitely more enjoyable for viewers of the anime.

As a whole, this special edition of the music from the anime was fantastic and nostalgic, albeit slightly disappointing. Hearing some of my favourite tracks in a classical tone was interesting to say the least, if not wholly uplifting. Although I believe its aimed towards fans of the anime, I recommend to give Suzumiya Haruhi no Gensou a listen if you’re interested in classical orchestra music.

Songs to look out for:

  • Koi no Mikuru Densetsu
  • The Usual Scenery ~ The Days Are Becoming Fervently Splendorous
  • Bouken Desho Desho
  • Lost My Music
  • SOS Brigade! ~ Something is Odd
  • God Knows

Australia Bound! (Part 1)

Hi Everyone! So for the first “Life” related post on this blog, I decided to talk about my travel from my home country Ecuador to the land down under, Australia. I’ll be making the overall story in parts, so check them out every week.

The farthest back in my memory I can go to is the age of 4. I vaguely remember moments before this age, but this was around the time I became conscious of the world around me. My family lived in a four story building which my grandparents owned and much of my childhood was spent playing in the outdoor area on the second floor.

My mother, who had left our country to look for a new place for us to live, has a very little role in my early childhood memories. My grandmother instead had taken that mantle  – “Mami Chenita” being what my two brothers and I called her. Our grandfather (who was adequately named “Papi Ramon”) was perhaps the person I felt most close to though. I was very similar to him apparently, a younger version many would say (I have him to thank for the green/hazel eyes). I would play away the days with my younger brother, the older one much to old to concern himself with us. Looking back now I had a very happy childhood. Yet in spite of this sunshine-filled existence, I was completely and utterly oblivious to what my mother was going through in finding a new place to call home.

My memory is very sparse between 4 – 6. As far as I think I know, mum had come back to us when I had turned 6 with our new step-father in tow. It was an interesting year – my mother had placed a larger interest in English and talked of an “Australia”. Now I had no idea of what Australia was – I think I thought it was an ice-cream flavour rather than a country. I do remember thinking I was great at English though, or at least enough to authorise me to teach my grandma the language. In any case, by the end of the year “Australia” became all that dad and mum would talk about. The wonderful land of Australia.

Australia, Australia, Australia…

Blog Schedule!

Hey!
So since I’ve decided to keep some form of consistency with this blog (I repeat, some), I thought I’d give you all a rundown of what I’ll be updating throughout the week. Seeing as i’ll try to update daily, I may miss a few days, but thats to be predicted out of anything right? Little errors. So little I can be forgiven.

Anyway, here’s the schedule i’ll try my absolute best to follow.

  • Mondays – Video Game Review
  • Tuesdays – Blog Related News
  • Wednesdays – Rest Day
  • Thursdays – Rest Day (Oh shush.)
  • Fridays – Life
  • Saturdays – Music Review
  • Sundays – Film Review

So that’s the week! At the end of each month I might be doing a recap of the things I’ve reviewed, but i’ll definitely be posting my thoughts on a variety of world news of the month (That’ll be interesting. But don’t worry about that now.). I hope you all look forward to something new each day and who knows, you might discover something that really sparks your interest.

That’s all for now, but Stay Tuned!

Playing: The World Ends With You (DS)

The_World_Ends_With_You_ Cover

Very rarely does a game surpass my expectations of it, yet The World Ends With You proved to be one of those few. With an deep plot, interesting game mechanics and a superb soundtrack, TWEWY will surely exceed your expectations too.

The story takes an interesting spin on purgatory – those who die in the RG (Realground) are given the chance to return to life in the UG (Underground). Neku, after waking up in the middle of the scramble crossing in Shibuya, is forced to flee after being attacked by beings later called “Noise”. He meets with Shiki, a fellow “Player”, who explains the basic idea of the world they find themselves in and how to survive. Players meet the bad guys, meet some new friends and go forth into battle (Typical of Square Enix titles, no?)

The playable characters (And a handful of NPCs) themselves are highly relatable, each with their own agendas, dreams and regrets. Whilst it’s arguable that some characters are overrated or cliché, its interesting to note that they raise a variety of modernist ideas. In a sense, the characters are used to acknowledge modern social issues, ranging from depression, ideas of beauty, perfection and even familial disorder. The best part? These are all aimed towards young adults.

The art style of the game is, in my opinion, addictive, original and exciting. The characters themselves are detailed sprites in both the over-world and battle screens. The story art and backgrounds are extremely stimulating –  almost as if hip hop was translated into 2D art (Which isn’t surprising when listening to the music of the game). Song tracks in the game are a reflection of typical “teen” interests, with most of them being upbeat and highly rhythmic (It’s one of them cool hits, Yo).

Most of the game is controlled via the touch screen of the DS, with certain functions and the story being in the upper screen. The weapons and items of the game are also “modernised” – traditional Square Enix swords, magics and potions are transformed into “Pins” that are controlled by the mind. Armour gets a makeover too – shields, chest plates and helmets become dresses, accessories and clothes that augment the user’s abilities.

“Psych” Pins can be levelled up and evolved through three different methods and there’s even a mini-game that details the in-game popularity of the Pins. Players can also scan the area they are in with a special Pin, allowing them to see surrounding noise and the inner thoughts of RG inhabitants. Battle gameplay is slightly awkward and complex as the game allows players to control Neku (with swipes, taps and holds) whilst also controlling his partner on the upper screen (with the D-pad). Overall, the mechanics of the game are overwhelming and understandably difficult to follow for both the inexperienced and the more seasoned gamer alike.

Yet despite these faults, the game is intoxicating to play. With a plethora of secrets, collectibles and side-quests (Apparently, style is very important – as is befriending all those cute storekeepers), TWEWY is a refreshing change to traditional RPGs within the world of hand-held gaming. Despite being one of the lesser known games of Square Enix, this interesting mix of pop culture and gaming makes it one of the more memorable titles of video games.

Bry Rating: 4.8/5
Recommended? Yes
Country Of Origin: Japan
Developer: Square Enix ; Jupiter